Lost opportunity for carbon savings. The Freight Transport Association says that a major opportunity to achieve important carbon savings in the road freight sector has been lost by the Secretary of State for Transport's decision not to allow trials for longer and heavier vehicles on British roads. FTA says that rejection of the prospect to move more goods on fewer vehicles, with all of the economic, environmental and safety benefits which could be achieved, is a sadly negative and blinkered decision at a time when rising oil prices and concern for climate change are so high on the national agenda.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has said that the report on the matter produced by the Transport Research Laboratory concluded that use of the vehicles would result in a shift away from rail freight to roads and that the use of such vehicles was 'not compatible with British roads'.
FTA Director of Policy James Hookham said, 'If CO2 savings are the single most important factor in the Secretary of State's decision, then she has just kicked into touch the most effective means of achieving double-digit carbon savings in the road freight sector. The report has rightly identified enormous complexities, including the risk of a shift in freight movements from road to rail. However, all she had to do was to talk to the logistics industry in order to sort out how any downside could be prevented and how to take maximum advantage of the major benefits in prospect. This decision will set a difficult tone regarding how carbon savings can be achieved in the road freight sector in the future.'
FTA says that longer heavier vehicles would have generated substantial cost savings and reduced carbon emissions by up to 30 per cent on trunking operations as a consequence of replacing three of the present heaviest vehicles with two of the proposed vehicles. They would have been particularly efficient when used for the movement of containers or of goods of relatively light weight but large capacity. These vehicles are already being successfully used elsewhere in Europe.
The Freight Transport Association represents the transport interests of UK industry. Its members operate over 220,000 goods vehicles and consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail.